Samso: more than carbon neutral

February 7, 2016

carbon neutral

While making breakfast, my husband likes to listen to the CBC. Today he heard a story about a small island in Denmark. This was the second time in a week that the little island of Samso has come up in conversation.

This is perhaps not so surprising when you learn that Samso is the first island in the world to become completely powered by renewable energy.

My students in their seminar this week also picked up on the achievements of Samso. They were discussing a British Columbia government report that looked at the best practices of 5 European communities and 5 communities in British Columbia that are leading the way to a low carbon future.

There is lots to learn from these communities – from Vancouver to Samso.

One of those lessons is the importance of having a clear vision, the right strategy to implement it, and sticking to both. I find I make this point often but the challenge we face is not technological but will we find the courage and good sense to make the change. Samso’s journey began in 1997, almost two decades ago, when it won a contest to become a model renewable energy community.

The other lesson is the importance of engaging the community in the transition.  Denmark requires every wind turbine project to have 20% community ownership. In Samso, farmers and residents own the wind turbines. Wind turbines suddenly look a lot better when you are a direct beneficiary.

Samso generates more electricity than it consumes.  It has a negative carbon footprint. However, they are not done yet. Their goal is to be fully fossil-fuel free by 2030.

Photo credit: m.prinke